Gulf Air CEO urges change in tourism industry to counter global downturn
James Hogan, president and chief executive of Gulf Air, urged the tourism and hospitality sector in Dubai that change and reaction to altered consumer needs is critical for success. Hogan was addressing industry leaders at the Dubai chapter of Skal, and admitted that the airline industry was facing its worst-ever spell, following on from the war in Iraq and the SARS crisis.
But he stressed: “This is part of the cyclical nature of business and the region will bounce back, and sooner rather than later. What is critical for all of us in the service industry is that we look to change and adapt to take our businesses forward. And following this global downturn in tourism, we have to identify the gaps in operations, as we—and the customer—embark on a journey of change.”
He admitted that lessons will be learned from business operations over the last couple of months and said: “We all have to make sure our business processes are strong, so we can re-shape the structure to pass on the best possible benefit directly to the customer.”
Hogan added that he also believed Gulf Air was well placed to make a quick recovery from the downturn which occurred at the back end of March and early April. “Although we are only in the initial phase of our three-year turnaround strategy, the changes we have implemented to date have made a quantifiable difference to the commercial operation of the airline,” he said.
Despite the negative impact of the conflict, Gulf Air achieved an average 3.7 percent improvement in traffic over the first quarter of 2003 compared to the same period last year. Hogan also used the occasion to reveal the airline’s new corporate identity, which he said, represents the more serious and fundamental changes taking place at every level in the airline.
“In reshaping Gulf Air to operate in the competitive market, it is our aim to be distinguishable from our competitors, by moving away from the monotony and predictability of a generic international airline, hence this bold contemporary new look”
Following questions on the airline’s commitment to the region, Hogan said: “We feel destination management is key, and we will be pro-active in promoting Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Oman around the world, especially in Europe.”
The move to destination marketing is considered essential by many in the tourism sector at present; the luxury hotel group Le Meridien, for example, has dispensed with its traditional “brand presence” at the upcoming Arabian Travel Market (May 6-9) and is putting its drive and market weight behind a destination drive.
The Dubai chapter of Skal, the international organisation of tourism leaders, was launched in September with the support of Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), and 20 founding members. The membership has risen to more than 50 in just six months.
Registered as Dubai Chapter 672 through the Skal headquarters in Torremolinos, Spain, the Dubai members join more than 25,000 tourism professionals in more than 525 clubs in 80 countries in their pursuit for the sound development of tourism worldwide. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)